POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Human Nature, Working Poor, Bourgeoisie
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Liberal ideology: Liberal thought puts the rational individual property owner at the center of the
As individuals we have access to reason, through reason we realize that our happiness can be found
in the full consumption of nature.
We realize that property is essential if our happiness is to withstand the test of time. In order to be
happy we must own things. This is what is meant by the rational individual property owner.
As such we are at the center or the world/center of all occupations because no institution or
collective body knows better than we do about our happiness or how to ensure our happiness.
o There's no institution or body have can ensure our reason.
We have to protect our property, to secure the property liberals recognize that we need the state.
Only the state can enforce contracts, build highways, guard against thieves etc.
However the state is seen as a necessary evil for liberals. In theory liberals will only give the state
In theory liberals don’t want state intervention but the need to certain things forces liberals to give
more and more of a role to the state.
o The state requires responsibilities notably for social programs and programs for wealth
o While liberals are in theory want little state intervention, however state intervention is what
will ultimately save liberalism (Social programs and Wealth redistribution programs).
o In a liberal economy you don’t want people saving, you want people spending. The only who
would be saving are the rich.
o This takes place in the beginning of the 20th century (First social programs), the second key
moment is the New Deal time.
It is impossible to deny the historical success of liberalism, the power of attraction of liberalism.
From the French revolution onwards, Liberalism will be the guiding force of the movement of things
in the western world. Liberalism will command major economic and social changes that will
completely redraw and distribute the social economic configuration of 19th Century Europe.
Through industrialization are urbanization the social fabric of Europe will change.
Liberal thought will help reduce the arbitrary nature of the absolute monarchy in Europe.
The proclamation of universal equality will have profound social effects in Europe.
The Historical Success of Liberalism came with a price. E.G.
o The liberal idea that we should exploit nature for the betterness of all, will create
environmental catastrophe which humanity has never seen before.
o Liberalism will be responsible for Exploitation, alienation and for the destruction of traditional
communities across the planet. In addition to the destruction of the quality of life.
Effects of Liberalism in the 19th Century
The changes that liberalism will bring through industrialization and urbanization ( The creation of
large urban centers), both phenomena come about in accordance with liberalism. They both also
create new social forces.
These new social forces born of the effects of liberalism, reject the liberal perspective as well as
refuse the forms of domination and exploitation brought about by liberalism.
These new social forces will strive to create their own representation of the movement of history
and the nature of human existence.
The emerging social forces of the 19th century react to the emergence of liberalism, refuse
liberalism and they will create new ideologies that will compete with the hegemony of liberal
o Social force behind liberalism = Merchant class.